Earth Notes
2:34 am
Fri May 5, 2006

Border Bill

Phoenix, AZ – In fact, they ended up walking out of a meeting with
legislative leaders after just 10 minutes of what was
supposed to be an hour long session. The group of
mayors, supervisors, sheriffs, county attorneys, police
chiefs and others said they are concerned that the
comprehensive border and immigration plan being crafted
by Republican legislative leaders is unrealistic. Yuma
County Sheriff Ralph Ogden is particularly unhappy with
one provision that says people who are in this country
in violation of federal immigration law would be
charged under state law with trespass. And the measure
would require law enforcement officers to actually
question those they stop about their legal status.
Ogden said he figures that the time spent by officers
in his county now in turning over illegal immigrants to
federal agents computes out to about $37,000 a year.

(Under the bill as proposed, and I speak only of law
enforcement and my jail, if every one of those 8,312
inmates is charged as a misdemeanor, it would take that
$37,000 that we're now spending and it would bring it
between $750,000 and $1.3 million just for the law
enforcement.)

Ogden said that doesn't include housing these people in
jail awaiting trial, adding another $21 million. And if
lawmakers decide to make the crime a felony -- an
option they're considering -- the time spent before
trial increases as does the cost, to $96 million. After
the press conference the group went to meet with Senate
President Ken Bennett and House Speaker Jim Weiers.
Douglas Mayor Ray Borane who organized the meeting said
Weiers criticized one member of the contingent who said
the border is a federal responsibility, with the
speaker saying he was here to discuss what the state
can do and didn't care to hear about federal issues.
But Weiers said his comments to members of the group
didn't end there.

(I told them it was politically stupid to have a press
conference prior to meeting with us to tell us what we
were going to be discussing and what the outcome was,
and take shots at the very people you were down here to
talk to. And that's when the mayor from Douglas said
you called me stupid. And I said I didn't call YOU
stupid but I said it was stupid politically to lambaste
the people you're going to go in and talk to.)

Borane got up and walked out. And most of the other
more than two dozen people in the group went with him.
Borane, contacted later on his way back to Douglas,
said he and other elected officials called the press
conference to weigh in on the package -- a package
being negotiated behind closed doors.

(We just voiced concern about the fact that we were not
involved, we were not represented in any of the talks.
And they never called us. And we're the ones who get
the brunt of the things that come out of what he
controls. His name was never mentioned specifically.
You know, I can understand that.)

But Borane was not apologetic about walking out -- and
not about to make peace with Weiers.

(As condescending as he was, I can see why he thought,
I guess he thought we should have kissed the ring
first.)

And there was no love lost on Weiers's part.

(You can't listen to people who don't stick around and
talk.)

Those closed-door discussion among legislative leaders
continue today. In Phoenix, for Arizona Public Radio
this is Howard Fischer.